Respect for life in our everyday actions
Planning and creating an ecovillage in the EDE course
In 2011, Damanhur began hosting the Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) course every summer. It is an international course certified by Gaia Education that came about as a contribution to the "Decade of Sustainability" launched by the United Nations in 2005.
Damanhur is one of the founders of this curriculum together with other European partners, and the first Italian organization to host this initiative. The course has a duration of one month and is open to participants from all over the world.
Its objective is to provide tools for designing and creating an ecovillage, from social, environmental, economic, and cultural points of view. In this curriculum, citizens of Damanhur offer 40 years of experience as a community, in addition to knowledge gained from its exchanges with the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) and the Network of Italian Ecovillages (RIVE). Many Damanhurians take turns leading classes, both in the classroom and at other sites around the communities, in order to offer the widest possible range of experiences.
The course participants contribute their own experiences, since exchange is a prerequisite for creating any community, whether large or small. The various editions of the EDE courses have shown how a series of good eco-sustainable practices, consolidated in years of community experience, can serve as a replicable model and a resource, even for international institutions. Africa, for example, is rapidly expanding the conversion of traditional villages into ecovillages, with a government sector in Senegal designated to support this diffusion. As a confirmation of this approach, Damanhur has established a sister community relationship with an ecovillage in Senegal called Guédé Chantier, which is also a member of the GEN network.
Exploring energy conservation through technology
Damanhur was selected to participate in the Origin pilot project, an initiative funded by the European Union that focused on the design, installation, and experimentation of advanced technological equipment for energy management in large and small houses. The Origin project, active in Damanhur from 2012 to March 2016, had the goal of identifying and preventing waste in energy use for homes and large business structures, through highly innovative technology.
The project has involved three large European communities: Tamera in Portugal, Findhorn in Scotland (United Kingdom) and Damanhur in Italy. The full list of participants includes some universities: Heriot Watt University (United Kingdom), Isa (Portugal), University of Strathclyde (United Kingdom) and the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft Society for Applied Research (Germany).
The Origin project implemented the experimental monitoring of all forms of consumption in a house during the various stages of the year to detect any kind of waste, as well as the under-utilization of energy by the occupants. Consumption was monitored through the energy grid, the self-production of energy with photovoltaic panels, solar concentrators or wind turbines, and solar thermal, making it possible for university researchers as well as technicians in the participating communities to gather useful data for directing the consumption of resources.
At Damanhur, this experimentation was carried out by Solerà, a company that specializes in renewable energy. It took place in the nucleo communities of Dendera and Magilla in Lugnacco, Italy, and at Damanhur Crea in Vidracco, Italy. In all three sites, the monitoring systems have become an integral part of the established systems within the buildings.